When model students become the teachers…

Were you the kind of high school student who always did your homework? Who always studied for tests? Who came to class prepared? Or were you kind who procrastinated? Who scraped by on what you could pick up in class? Who was too busy or distracted to pick up a book or notebook at home?…

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A ‘fitbit’ to remind us to talk less

How much of your class time is teacher talk? How much is student talk? I noted in my book, Beat Boredom, that less than 2 minutes of a typical 60-minute English class is spent in genuine student-to-student discussion. That’s deeply concerning because students are better engaged and learning more when they are talking. Did you…

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We spend billions on ed tech; let’s work on making better use of it

Note: I have teamed up with Andrea Wilson Vazquez (master of makerspaces and coding) to offer Make Tech Matter design-thinking workshops with a tech focus. Interested in scheduling one for your school or organization in 2019? Email me at Martha.Rush@neverbore.org. What is one critical problem facing your community? My colleague, Andrea, and I led a…

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Proficiency-based grading: Still more questions than answers

Every time I think I’ve wrapped my head around proficiency-based grading, I encounter a new question, and I’m lost all over again. At my school, we’ve had a training session and a few meetings since I last blogged about my personal transition (What is a 3, anyway?). During staff training, we all read a blog…

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Sure, that sounds good… but what about math?

 “When you start talking about authentic instruction and assessment, the math teachers in the room stop listening.” Not true for all math teachers, I know. But one math teacher pulled me aside after a recent workshop to share this observation. Math teachers — especially those teaching higher level courses like trigonometry and calculus — know their…

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AP can be about more than just tests

At the end of one of my design thinking workshops this fall, a participant said she found it strange that I present workshops to promote divergent thinking and classroom innovation, then turn around and present AP workshops for the College Board. She asked: Isn’t this kind of teaching exactly the opposite of what AP requires?…

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Just tell me what to do, please

(Photo by https://todaytesting.com) Two years ago, when I was deep into the writing/editing phase of my book, Beat Boredom, I received a very disheartening email from my editor. She said, basically: This isn’t what we want. Try again. You can image the emotional turbulence. I was frustrated. And angry. And exhausted.   And I wanted…

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‘I don’t know this word’… Why student knowledge and context matter

My friend Mary, a bookseller in Chicago, told me I need to read Educated, a memoir by Tara Westover. Westover was was raised by American survivalists, and her story explains how she broke with her family’s extremist ideology and left home to seek her education, culminating in a Ph.D. from Cambridge. The part that stuck…

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Why a brand-new master schedule isn’t the solution

Note to readers: I try to post every week, but a summer full of PD workshops has turned out to be busier than the school year! I hope you’re having a restful July.  In the past few weeks leading AP summer institutes for Macro/Micro teachers, I’ve had a lot of discussions about the “school day.”…

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What do we do when students don’t know seemingly everyday words?

When is the last time you encountered words (in English) that you didn’t know? How did it impact your understanding? How did it make you feel? I encounter unfamiliar words once in a while, but I honestly can’t recall a recent example. The last time I was truly stymied by vocabulary was my sophomore year…

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